tocacco plant Native American Tobaccoo flower, leaves, and buds

tocacco Tobacco is an annual or bi-annual growing 1-3 meters tall with large sticky leaves that contain nicotine. Native to the Americas, tobacco has a long history of use as a shamanic inebriant and stimulant. It is extremely popular and well-known for its addictive potential.

tocacco nicotina Nicotiana tabacum

tocacco Nicotiana rustica leaves. Nicotiana rustica leaves have a nicotine content as high as 9%, whereas Nicotiana tabacum (common tobacco) leaves contain about 1 to 3%

tocacco cigar A cigar is a tightly rolled bundle of dried and fermented tobacco which is ignited so that its smoke may be drawn into the mouth. Cigar tobacco is grown in significant quantities in Brazil, Cameroon, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Honduras, Indonesia, Mexico, Nicaragua, Sumatra, Philippines, and the Eastern United States.

tocacco Tobacco is an agricultural product processed from the fresh leaves of plants in the genus Nicotiana. It can be consumed, used as an organic pesticide, and in the form of nicotine tartrate it is used in some medicines. In consumption it may be in the form of cigarettes smoking, snuffing, chewing, dipping tobacco, or snus.

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3rd Hand Smoke Study Has Legal Implications

Thirdhand tobacco smoke, what the New York Times called “the invisible yet toxic brew of gases and particles clinging to smokers’ hair and clothing,” reacts with a common indoor air pollutant to cause very potent cancer-causing chemicals, a new study shows. This finding has important implication for employers, parents, fetuses, and for e-cigarettes, says public interest law professor John Banzhaf of Action on Smoking and Health (ASH), America’s first antismoking organization.

Fortunately, says Banzhaf, the law provides protection against exposure to this substance, previously simply known simply as “tobacco smoke residue,” which also contains heavy metals, hydrogen cyanide (used in chemical weapons), butane (used in lighter fluid), toluene (found in paint thinners), arsenic, lead, and even radioactive Polonium-210 (used to murder a Russian spy).

A federal court has held that an employee whose health is adversely affected by thirdhand smoke has a cause of action under the Americans With Disabilities Act [ADA] against an employer who refused to reduce his exposure in the workplace, and a complaint by Action on Smoking and Health recently forced a university to protect a woman and her unborn child whose health was threatened by tobacco smoke residue on the clothing of an office mate who smoked outdoors.

In the latter situation one doctor stated that “her sensitivity is also to the tobacco smoke residue on the person or clothing of a smoker, not just the smoke in the air. Therefore, to protect her health, especially during her pregnancy, she should not be assigned to an office with someone who smokes during the work day.”

Another doctor said that “smoking and second hand smoke has known effects on the placenta that carries nourishment to the baby. Therefore, to protect her health and the health of her baby, she should not be assigned to an office with someone who smokes during the workday, even if that person doesn’t smoke in that room.’

In addition to these two situations in which a nonsmoking man, and woman and her unborn child, were expressly protected from thirdhand tobacco smoke, several courts have also recognized the right of children to be protected from thirdhand smoke.

Among the judges in dozens of states which have issued court orders protecting children involved in custody disputes from smoking in the home, many have stipulated that there be no smoking 24 or even 48 hours before the child’s expected arrival, thereby providing protection from third hand smoke.

Also, in many of the states which protect foster children from tobacco smoke, smoking is banned in the home even when the child is not present, another indication of the need to protect children from third hand as well as second hand tobacco smoke, says Banzhaf.

The authors suggest that this new study should also raise concerns about the purported safety of electronic cigarettes whose major claim is that they eliminate the carcinogenic risk posed by smoking tobacco cigarettes. If the nicotine exhaled by e-cigarette users is easily converted into deadly and potent carcinogenic chemicals, there is even more reason to be concerned about their safety, and the need to prevent their use in no-smoking sections in public.

Indeed, in a broader sense, says Banzhaf, who heads Action on Smoking and Health, as the dangers of tobacco smoke residue become more widely known, both judges and legislators are likely to extend to nonsmokers the same protections from third hand tobacco smoke the law now extends regarding tobacco smoke itself.

Professor of Public Interest Law at GWU,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
FELLOW, World Technology Network, and
Executive Director and Chief Counsel
Action on Smoking and Health (ASH)
America’s First Antismoking Organization
2013 H Street, NW
Washington, DC 20006, USA
(202) 659-4310 // (703) 527-8418

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2 comments to 3rd Hand Smoke Study Has Legal Implications

  • Kate

    Woo Woo … here comes the Banzwagon … out of context, out of scale and off the planet. Mr Banzstuff is well known for being a fundamentalist perverter of scale.

    Tell him to get some perspective and then to get a life and allow other people to have theirs without him whining on all the time.

  • Judy Mays

    Several months ago I developed community acquired pnemonia. A couple entered my work place and I could smell the most awful stench of tobacco smoke I had ever experienced. It was strong and I had the impression that it was a build up of toxins on their clothing and hair. I immediately got a sinus headache, and began to cough. I ended up being off work for 10 days with pneumonia(having to use vacation time) due to third hand smoke. In 2002 I had good lung function but in 2005 I was diagnosed with asthma. I believe what strongly contributed to the ailment was going in and out of the county building where I worked and passing through a haze of smoke everyday. I generally had to take at least (1) day off from work due to respiratory problems.

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